This past Sunday I got to preach my first sermon in German. Here is the video (with subtitles).
Here are some interesting things that I learned along the way:
Keeping it Simple.
When preaching in America, I like to go deep. That is a buzzword that doesn’t necessarily mean much, but for me it means analyzing the text and getting to what it’s really saying.
What I learned preparing my sermon last week is that a lot of that is fluff. I couldn’t do nearly as much of that, and I didn’t need to. Sometimes we get so worried about sounding smart, that we fail to simply get out there and try.
My sermon wasn’t complicated. The main points were simple. I had to condense what I was saying to drive each point home.
Not only do I lack the understanding of the language to effectively unpack philosophical and theological concepts, but I don’t speak as quickly as a native German. My pace was slower, allowing less words to fit into my given time.
It wasn’t complex. But it was clear.
Sometimes simple is better. I actually found it very refreshing to state things simply.
What is “Thesaurus” in German?
Writing the subtitles in this video was a painstaking process. Mostly because I had to listen to every single word I
fumbled through spoke.
But I didn’t realize until then how similarly I had structured many of my sentences. I also hadn’t realized how many times I repeated the same word (Versöhnung, Reconciliation) in all its forms. I don’t know if this is as big an issue in German, but in English, I would never be so repetetive, and would find different ways to express that idea to break up the monotony.
Next time I will definitely need a Thesaurus (yeah, it turns out that one is pretty easy)!
What is important when people preach is not how eloquently they speak, or how well-developed their themes are. What matters is that Christ is glorified, and that people know how to better glorify him.
A friend reminded me before I preached that “it doesn’t matter what you say. It’s about the fact that you’re doing it.” This was the first big milestone in a journey of ministry in Germany. I got to do it in a supportive environment, among friends. Maybe what I said hit home for some (a couple people told me it did). Maybe it was simple, or painstakingly slow to listen to. What matters is that I got out and did it, and broke the ice.
If we can’t feel comfortable exposing ourselves and trying things out amongst other brothers and sisters in Christ, what chance do we have when sharing the Gospel with non-believing friends. The church ought to be the safest place for us to grow with one another.